Foodfighters is a game currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and it’s by Joshua and Helaina Cappel. Joshua is well known for his amazing artwork in games like Belfort and Scoville. Helaina founded Kids Table Board Gaming to create a place where kids’ creativity is at the core.
With children of my own I know that I want them to find paths on which to be creative and perhaps board gaming and design will be one of those paths. For now, since they are little, that path begins with fun and engaging games, like Foodfighters.
Today I’m posting an interview with Joshua and Helaina about this great project, Kids Table, and some other random things. Here are some helpful links to get you started:
Boards & Barley (B&B): Hello Joshua and Helaina. Thanks for joining me for this blog post. Can you point the readers to where they might learn more about each of you as well as FoodFighters?
Helaina Cappel (HC): Thanks Ed!
Joshua Cappel (JC): Yeah thanks, nice to be here. We stayed at your family’s hotel chain a few nights ago, great stuff. Although mentioning your name at the desk didn’t translate to a discount. You should look into that.
B&B: Unfortunately I don’t get a discount at “my” hotels either despite my name being all over them! What are your kids’ favorite games? What are your favorite games?
JC: Our kids (boys aged 6 and 3) are particularly enamoured with Cockroach Poker. It’s the most-requested game in the house and it has spread amongst their friends. They also enjoy Gulo Gulo, Loopin’ Louie, Gobblet Gobblers, and a number of my own designs including Rescue Rockets (due out this year from Z-man Games), River Runners (prototype I’m shopping around) and of course Foodfighters!
HC: There actually isn’t a day that goes by that our kids don’t ask to play something (thank goodness – Josh and I were hoping our kids would enjoy gaming as much as we do). I just hope, every time they ask for a game, that it is a game that we will enjoy playing as well. As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a bit of Chutes & Ladders in the mix, along with the games Josh mentioned.
JC: Grrr, Chutes & Ladders. Every time we play it I enter a silent rage inside. Not even so much as a game designer, but as a game artist. So many things wrong with this. More than one pawn doesn’t physically fit in the same space! The board layout is a grid even though the topography is a path… there’s no reason that space 9 should be touching space 12, but it does… little kids never know whether they’re going left or right or up or down, and some smarter visual design would have improved this so easily.
B&B: (Note to self: Don’t mention Chutes and Ladders around Josh.) Can you give us all a little bit of the Foodfighters origin story? Where did the idea come from and how long have you been working on it?
JC: Foodfighters began as a totally different game; a semi-abstract game called Shutri. I designed it over a decade ago and although it was a favourite among friends, it was a weird duck to pitch to publishers. Generally publishers don’t go for abstracts, and generally abstract-game fans don’t like dice-rolling. Helaina insisted that the game was worth pursuing though, and eventually convinced me to add a theme and beef up the gameplay accordingly. No pun intended.
HC: You are hysterical Josh! Yes, I loved Shutri from the beginning. It was engaging and fun for us to play one on one (I haven’t always been a big fan of two-player games). But there was something that was lacking. As the game evolved, so too did the fun factor, as well as the depth and complexity of the gameplay. When Foodfighters emerged, it became even more engaging, therefore easier to “sell” to people, and in terms of replayability.
B&B: What are some of the highlights or lowlights of running your own Kickstarter campaign? Were there any surprises?
JC: The highlights for me have been working with Helaina on this project, and discovering the unbelievable support we’ve gotten from our family and friends. Truly it’s humbling. The lowlight has been the unforeseen stress and difficulty of running a 30-day campaign; when your game doesn’t fund in 40 minutes like we all fantasize will happen, it can turn into a real grind. We keep discovering things we wish we could go back in time and change, but we can’t. Our strategy has been to keep consistently asking questions and listening to the answers; trying to adapt our campaign so that our existing backers stay happy and get more for their pledges, and so that we can appeal to new crowds of potential supporters.
HC: I, too, have enjoyed working on the Foodfighters campaign with Josh. I think we make a really great team. I am taken aback by the outpouring of support we have experienced over the last few weeks. Not just from our friends and family, but from people who are genuinely excited about this project. I have met so many people who are interested in what I am doing, specifically for the reasons I am doing it; I want to make great games that are engaging for kids and adults.
I was told, before this campaign began, that I would be on the edge of my seat for every second it is live. That is a complete understatement. The campaign has totally enveloped me. I didn’t realize how little sleep I would get, and that while I am sleeping, I would still be working on Foodfighters in my dreams.
B&B: What makes Foodfighters unique? Why should people back it?
JC: There are a few things that make Foodfighters unique. In gameplay terms, there is the thought-bubble system which clearly shows players which target a fighter is interested in attacking. This creates an interesting demand for the player to simultaneously behave offensively and defensively. The no bad results on the dice is a cool twist too… players want to roll splats when they attack, but if they miss, then the dice show Beans which the player collects. Beans are the game’s money, so you use them to buy cool stuff to improve your fighters. This is how we turned a “bad” thing into a “good” thing… players are sometimes actually happier when they miss!
People should back Foodfighters for the gameplay, but also for what Kids Table is trying to achieve with it; I’ll let Helaina talk about that though.
HC: Foodfighers is a game that is engaging for adults and kids. I want to make games for smart kids to play with their smart parents, and I want them to LOVE what they are playing. Game play should be engaging, and, there should be some aspect of strategy that can be managed by kids. Games that have a strategic component help kids to learn a great deal about gaming, and about life.
B&B: I love your artwork style, Joshua, especially for Belfort. Regarding Belfort, which of the easter eggs hidden on the board was your favorite to draw?
JC: Thanks! Belfort started my ongoing tradition of sneaking easter eggs into game art. There’s actually a Belfort reference hidden in your Scoville! I think my favourite one to draw was probably the Alien Scout ship (from the first TMG game I did art for, Terra Prime) being disassembled in the courtyard of one of the blacksmiths. There’s a crowd of onlookers, and wizards trying to figure it out while Gnomes and Dwarves pry panels off with crowbars. It’s a fun scene and it’s so tiny and pretty obscure. I’m sure people scanning the board for fun stuff like that had a tough time trying to figure out exactly what the reference was, ha!
B&B: Tasty Minstrel Games mentioned a Foodfighters-Scoville Crossover in a Scoville KS update and on Twitter. Can you mention anything about that?
JC: I can. The Foodfighters-Scoville crossover is a new fightin’ Hot Pepper Faction inspired by Scoville (Habanero, Jalapeño, and Phantom Pepper), with unique art and special team powers! Kickstarter backers will get access to a high-quality print n’ play of the faction so that they can mix up their game with these spicy fellows!
HC: I was so excited to introduce the Foodfighters-Scoville Crossover. It just seemed so natural as a crossover. It turned out to be adorable. We’re hearing some great chatter about it.
B&B: Helaina, I think Kids Table is awesome. What are some of your longterm plans with the company? Are there more games in the future?
HC: Thanks so much Ed! I think it’s pretty awesome also! When I began Kids Table I started with an after school program. The goal of this progam is to have kids learn about games (mechanics and theme) while they play. After several weeks, they design their own games, going through several rounds of playtesting, finally coming up with a prototype, rules, and a sell sheet. I LOVE this! It is the most fun I have with kids (other than my own, of course), all week.
But I also want to publish smart games for kids because there aren’t enough choices out there. Yes, this means that there will be other games down the road. And I don’t want to specifically publish Josh’s games either. When this Kickstarter campaign is over, I will be looking for my next game.
B&B: Thanks so much to both of you for joining me. I wish you the best on the rest of the campaign.
JC: Thanks, Ed! Only a few days left and we are bumping up against 90% funded! I think we can do it, but it’s going to be a nailbiter!
HC: Thanks so much Ed! And readers, don’t forget to play with your food!
B&B: Thanks, everyone, for reading this interview and for checking out the campaign for Foodfighters. As a reminder to all of you here are some links where you can find out more about the Kids Table and the Foodfighters campaign:
No, the title doesn’t refer to your shock that there’s actually a new blog post on Boards & Barley. Instead it refers to a new abstract game design of mine.
When I was a child I found a small print of M.C. Escher’s Waterfall Lithograph in my dad’s at-home office. At first I thought it was kind of neat but after a few minutes I realized how truly awesome the artwork was. There is an impossibility in the physical concepts of a waterfall flowing uphill. But yet this artwork makes it actually appear possible.
M.C. Escher has long been an inspiration of mine. I love trying to wrap my mind around the 2D artwork that portrays 3D impossibilities.
So I decided to make an abstract tile placement game around that concept. It is based on an impossibility that occurs in the waterfall lithograph. That impossibility is known as the Penrose Triangle. While I’m not using it exactly, I am using the fundamental idea of the Penrose triangle. I’ll show you below.
But first, because I have an illness where I must create a logo for any game design I am working on, here is the prototype logo:
The game is currently still in the concept phase. I have been trying to work out some “Euro-y” type scoring conditions but I’ll have to playtest it before I decide if they should be public goals or private goals, or a combination of both.
Here is an example scoring condition:
If players build a nodelink matching these colors then they will earn the points shown on the card. The first player to build such a nodelink would earn the 4 points while the second player would earn 4 points.
I currently have a bunch of different scoring conditions based on the nodes that will be built during the game. I’m looking forward to playtesting it and figuring out some of the balance about these cards.
The basic gameplay is simple. It’s sort of a mix between Carcassonne and Qwirkle. Players will play 1 tile anywhere that it fits onto the board. Nodes will be built up this way. Once a node is completed, it’s color is determined by whichever color is of a majority at the node.
There will also be one-time use bonuses that allow players to play more than one tile at a time. These should allow for players to make awesome moves in the game and have rewarding moments. My hope is that it also allows for some “take-that” type action where you can mess with something that other players are working on.
That’s the current status of Impossible. I will be bringing the prototype to Gen Con and I’m hoping to get it in front of some people. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.
I’ve been pretty quiet on this blog. In fact, it’s been two months since I posted something. I drastically underestimated how busy life gets with three kids. But I recently started actively designing again.
Back in March and April I collated all my designs and realized that I have 14 designs somewhere along the progress train. That was a little shocking. I then decided to focus on two designs and pursue them with great vigor rather than chipping away one small piece at a time.
Those two designs that I am focusing on are Trading Post and Ziggurat. Today I will discuss some of the concept of Trading Post.
Trading Post Status
Trading Post was my second ever design concept. I began working on it when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing regarding design games. (Some might still think that’s the case). But now I’ve redesigned it from scratch and I like where it is headed.
The theme of the game revolves around the Fort Union Trading Post. You can learn more about it on the National Park Service site here. The trading post at Fort Union was requested by the Assiniboine Indian tribe. All the local tribes and the inhabitants of the fort were friendly with one another, so the game includes no conflicts with the tribes. This is thematic and accurate.
The current status of the game is that I have solo tested it once. Here is a spoiler image of the prototype:
The game utilizes a rondel for action selection. It is a resource collection and management game. Players earn the most points by getting higher level resources via trades and then trading those higher level resources with Indian tribes.
The focus of the game is completing trades. I suppose you could put them in the same boat as the recipes in the Chili Cook Off in Scoville. They fit that mold. But in Trading Post you have to do a bunch of legwork to get the resources that are needed for those high level trades. And to get those resources you will have to manage your actions in the most optimal way.
There are eight action locations on the rondel. Four of them offer resources or trading abilities. The other four offer “experiences.” The experiences include hunting, encountering Indians, and building the fort. To hunt you will need guns. Encountering Indians is one of the higher level trading options. And building the fort will reward the player with the greatest number of points as it also determines when the game ends.
The whole premise is to contribute to the building of the fort. The best way to contribute is by completing trades that give you the resources with which you can build.
Why is it that the “In My Head” concept step always seems so perfect until I actually get the game to the table? Honestly the best step any game designer can take in figuring out their game is to make the prototype and play it. I liken that step to completing the border of a puzzle. Once you have the border completed then you have a better idea of what you are actually working on.
So I solo tested Trading Post the other night. I now have my border in place. After solo testing I realized that I needed tiers to the resources. This is similar to the idea of clay and brick in many Uwe Rosenberg games. The clay is a standard resource and the bricks are advanced resources. So I am going to implement a tiered system in Trading Post.
I also learned that the Indian Encounter trading objectives are too focused. Rather then requiring absolutely specific things, like two knives, they will require a more simple objective, like a pair of cards. This should help players complete those objectives, provide rewarding moments in the game, and allow the game to move more quickly.
The other thing I want to really emphasize in the game is player interaction via player to player trading. Right now I have a simple mechanic like the trading in Catan but I want to step it up just a bit. I’m still working on this and I’m hoping it falls into place when I have a few more pieces of the puzzle together.
So that’s the latest from me. I’ll post a similar article about Ziggurat probably next week. My goal for both games is to have them past the solo-testing phase so that I can bring them to Gen Con and get feedback from awesome people like you. Thanks for reading.
One of the barriers to game design is a lack of components. If you had blank cards sitting around, you would be more likely to start designing a card game. If you had some dice, you might design a dice game. The point is that if you had game design components available to you, then you are much more likely to move your game designs from the Concept phase to the Prototype/Playtesting phase.
Today I am listing some of the items that I find most useful in putting together a prototype. The hope is that you can find what you need to move your game design along.
Getting to the playtesting phase is often the biggest hurdle, but it’s the critical step in determining if your game design has any potential.
Before I get to my recommendations, which are brief, I want to remind you of the series I wrote about sourcing game design components. These articles are much more thorough:
- Sourcing Components: Cards
- Sourcing Components: Meeples
- Sourcing Components: Chits
- Sourcing Components: Dice
So check those out and then come back here for the basics to get you from the concept phase to the playtesting phase of your game designs.
Here is my checklist of excellent items to have in case you are ready to move from concept to prototype. To make it easier for you I have provided two lists, one for Amazon, and one for EAI Education (my preferred source). This way you can choose one and buy everything you need from one place.
- 100 Assorted Blank 16mm Dice ($18.95)
- 500 Assorted 1cm Cubes ($15.56)
- 500 Blank Playing Cards ($13.50)
- 100 Assorted Mini Meeples 12mm ($25.00)
- 144 Blank White Dice 5/8″ ($19.95)
- 1000 Assorted 1cm Cubes ($16.95)
- 54 Blank Playing Cards ($0.99)
- 30 Playing Pawns (These are ugly but they work) ($0.95)
With cards, dice, meeples, and cubes you are basically ready to roll out your game design prototype. Of course there are other things that you may want, but as for a Game Design Starter Kit I recommend these four items very highly! Please let me know if you have any questions.
Welcome back to Boards and Barley. It’s been 20 days since I last posted anything. Why? Because board gaming stuff is a hobby and not a job (Though if that changed it would be pretty sweet). I love blogging about board game stuff, but when things get really busy this hobby falls to the back seat before anything else. Never-the-less, I’m going to adjust my schedule so that I can continue blogging and sharing tips about homebrewing and designing board games.
One of the first things I want to do is to renovate (i.e., create) a Game Design Page that compiles all of my articles about the game design process. I’ve posted stuff about game design from concept to publication and I think having all that in one place would be really useful.
I also want to start a regular Tuesday article about beer that focuses on a Beer of the Week. I like to try as many new beers as I can and I’d like to share my thoughts about the beer and its style with you.
Another thing that I’ve missed doing are the “Design Me” game design exercises. These are relatively easy to post so I think I’ll try to get back into those. Plus, they are very beneficial for game designers as they help flex your game design muscle.
But today is Monday so let’s check out the Boards & Barley I’ve been enjoying!
NEW! Ale Asylum HuMMMane India Brown Ale
I bought a six pack of this brew at my FLBS (Favorite local beer store) because they were giving away samples and because the proceeds would go to support the local Honor Flight. For those not aware of the Honor Flight program, it is a program that takes war veterans to Washington DC to visit their respective war memorials. Then there are usually nice crowds to welcome the war heroes back home when their airplane lands. With a father who was in the military and with a brother who has served tours of duty in places I would never want to go I am very happy to support the military whenever possible, and the honor flights are a great way to do so.
- Homebrew – Rolling Dubbels Belgian Dubbel
- NEW! Ommegang Hennepin Saison
- NEW! Ommegang Three Philosopher’s Quadrupel
- Duchesse du Bourgoune
- Homebrew – Nobody Plays Brown Brown Ale
- Tyranena Fatal Attaction Imperial Black IPA
- Vintage Brewing Dedication Belgian Dubbel
New Beer Count for 2015: 22
There is a lot of game in this little box. In Harbour players try to manage their resources, ship goods, and buy buildings. There are a lot of interesting decisions to be made while hoping your opponents don’t modify the market and sweep the rug out from under your feet. I’m glad I backed this Tasty Minstrel Games project on Kickstarter.
- NEW! Fidelitas – I thought this game was pretty clever. I played a 2 player game and I enjoyed it. Playing it a second time will be even better know that I have a better idea of how the game is played and what combos exist.
- Concordia (Half of a game)
- Dungeon Roll
- Ticket to Ride
- Ziggurat Playtest
New Board Game Count for 2015: 15
So those are the Boards & Barley that I’ve been enjoying. What have you been enjoying?